by Brandon Wetherbee
Brandon Wetherbee hosts the talk show/podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody the first two Friday’s of the month at the Wonderland Ballroom and in Brooklyn and Chicago once a month. Subscribe to it online at youmethemeverybody.com. He’ll be at the Looking Glass Lounge on November 14 hosting 8×8 featuring Jessica Brodkin, Sarah E Donnelly, Sampson McCormick, Erin Ryan, Adam Friedland & Peter Heyneman, Sandra Beasley, S.M. Shrake and Jonny Grave.
There was a time when your CD collection determined who you were. This was 14 years ago, when I was 14. The few used CDs I bought from Disc Go Round showed the world that I was sensitive (Nirvana’s “Unplugged”), angry (Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”), sensitive to girls (Smashing Pumpkins’ “Siamese Dream), angsty (Nirvana’s “In Utero”) and underground (Nirvana’s “Incesticide” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Pisces Iscariot”). I borrowed Pantera and Megadeth CDs from friends that had more black clothing and Stone Temple Pilots CDs from friends that had more success talking to girls. I bought “Hit Parader” on a monthly basis because full color photos of dudes playing guitar seemed important. This led to seeing the Nirvana drummer playing guitar which led to getting Foo Fighters “Foo Fighters” and learning how to play those songs on bass and singing along and harassing my grandfather on May 20, 1997 to drive me to the local Coconuts (horrible chain CD store where I ended up working years later but that’s another column) to buy “The Colour and The Shape” the day it came out.
On May 20, 1997, “The Colour and The Shape” became my favorite album of the year. It remains my favorite album of 1997. It’s not better than Radiohead’s “OK Computer,” Bjork’s “Homogenic” or Bob Dylan’s “Time Out of Mind,” but it has something those albums lack, fun. It’s a fun record that tries to be somewhat serious (“Doll,” “My Hero”) and succeeds without losing any of the extreme pop sheen (“Everylong,” “See You”) that makes it so accessible. Sure, some of the folks that liked the more garage friendly sound of the self-titled debut were let down, but legions of kids were turned onto the sleekness. Hell, “Monkey Wrench” is the sound of a 30 year old man trying to play hardcore guitar after becoming a millionaire. You can never go back home but you don’t have to forget who you are.
This isn’t to say that you still can’t have an edge. Once you’re in a band with a dude that’s the best at dying of gun shot wounds to the skull, you’re always going to have an edge. The song “The Colour and The Shape” is the bands sharpest tool. It’s why loud things sound better than not loud things. This B-Side that is also the albums title sounds nothing like the 2011 Foo Fighters and barely anything like the 1997 edition. It’s super loud, the lyrics are indecipherable and the drums sound more like the end of an “In Utero” track than anything since. It’s perfect for a teeneager to find on a bootleg VHS tape of a Canadian concert, wear that tape out and find it on YouTube nearly 10 years later. It’s also kick ass because Grohl gets behind the kit! Like he did in Nirvana! Never forget!
What self-respecting adult is going to like that song? What once former rock and roll kid isn’t going to love it?
I saw the band for the first time in 1997. It was my first ‘real’ concert. Smoking Popes opened. It was at the Milwaukee Summer Fest on a side stage. My mom took me. She waited a few thousand yards away on a park bench. I waited in silence for two hours before the Popes went on. I let a pretty girl take my spot, standing on the last row of bleachers, about 50 feet from the stage, during the Popes, because she was a pretty girl. When her boyfriend try to join her I politely asked for my spot back. They didn’t oblige. During the Popes set I managed to violently ‘fall’ into the back of the dudes knee. He fell down. I calmly stood where I was once was. By the time the Foo Fighters took the stage I was elated. Three hours in to this experience, I could kind of sort of see Pat Smear (He was in the touring version of Nirvana! Never forget!) and Dave Grohl screamed about stuff and I had a blast. I bought my first official concert t-shirt following the show (which I wore every time it was clean for a year before it was ‘lost’ in a move) and thanked my mother for taking me. I’ve seen the band a handful of times since then, enjoying each experience and not really caring if a couple stood in front of me.
14 years later, I’m still a fan of the band. The first single from the bands 2011 release “Wasting Light” is “White Limo,” a song that sounds like I wrote it five years ago. Don’t believe me? The first video is the Foo Fighters. The second one is Fetor, my band from five years ago.
Do I need to see the Foo Fighters this 11/11/11? No. Do I want to? Absolutely. Do I have a ticket? No. Why not? Those costs lots o’ money. Can I have yours? I promise I’ll use it smiling like a 14 year old boy. Also, if you don’t, I’ll kick your boyfriend in the back of the knee. No, I won’t. Sorry. I went too far.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful night.